Apparently the oldest club in Victoria still golfing on its original site, Flinders was formed by a group of Royal Melbourne members in 1903 on coastal crown land that overlooked Western Port Bay. The course was driven by David Maxwell, an ex-pat Scot from St Andrews who holidayed at Flinders and won the first club championship at Royal Melbourne. Maxwell and a group of keen golfers acquired the lease, organized the membership drive and even played a part laying out the golf holes.
Several of the early Flinders holes remain intact today, with others having received a facelift over the ensuing years. The most famous change occurred in 1926, when legendary designer Dr Alister MacKenzie made a visit and suggested a raft of alterations. The most memorable hole at Flinders, the famous Coffin Hole, was originally a par three to a green set between two nasty ravines. MacKenzie’s advice was to push the green back beyond the ‘Purgatory’ ravine, move the tee and play the hole as a tempting two-shotter. Other MacKenzie suggestions were not implemented at the time because of a lack of funds and his influence, or otherwise, at Flinders has long been debated.
What is not in dispute is the fun and enjoyment that this charming ‘little’ course has brought hundreds of golfing families over the decades. Like the best in Britain, Flinders doesn’t torment with length or undue difficulty, but the sub-70 par is tricky given the coastal breezes and small, punishing green sites. Fairways have become narrower over the years as well, and trees more intrusive through the central sections. The golf is still good though, and better holes like the Coffin (the 4th) and par three 12th are enough to bring most visitors and members back for more.